LEP celebrates legacy at final board meeting

March 11, 2024

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership will celebrate its near £200million legacy at its final board meeting – and welcome back some familiar faces from its past to mark the occasion.

The LEP – which for more than ten years has been the body responsible for driving economic growth across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – is holding its last ever board meeting on March 12.

It is marking the occasion with a farewell celebration at the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, which will see former board members, working partners from local authorities, education providers and the third sector, and members of staff get together with the current board.

The LEP’s functions are being transferred to the three principal councils covering the area from April 1.

Sonia Roberts, the LEP chair, said the final board meeting would be a sad occasion – but one which also reflected the huge contribution the organisation had made to the Marches.

“There is not a corner of the three counties we cover which has not benefitted from the work of the LEP since we were established in 2011.

“The LEP has been responsible for investing nearly £200million in the Marches, with close to 4,000 jobs created or in the pipeline. We’ve supported thousands of businesses through the Marches Growth Hub and helped hundreds of people realise their dream of starting their own firm.

“Our work with our partners in education has helped create a new generation of apprenticeships and developed the skills our workforce needs to succeed, whilst the Marches Careers Hub has reached thousands of students and hundreds of teachers in its mission to transform careers education by linking education and training providers with the business community.

“We can reflect with great pride on our work in supporting a range of transformative projects such as the redevelopment of the Shell Store and creation of the Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security in Hereford, the Oswestry Innovation Park, Shrewsbury town centre improvements and redevelopment of the Flaxmill in Shropshire, and regeneration projects across Telford as well as the development of Ni.Park at Newport and Marches Centre of Excellence in Health and Social Care.

“We’ve also helped bring much-improved broadband to all areas of our region, worked to improve transport links and driven the progress to achieving Net Zero and a sustainable economy which is fit for the future and safeguards our planet.

“I am hugely grateful to everyone who has played a part in the LEP’s success, including our board members who have given up their time for free, our brilliant staff who have worked so hard for more than a decade, and all our colleagues and partners in our local authorities and education providers.

“Naturally I am sad to see the LEP’s work come to a close, but I could not be prouder of what we have achieved and the difference we have made to the lives of so many people across the Marches.”

Chief executive Rachel Laver said the LEP had played a crucial role in championing the Marches with national and regional government and had achieved huge success in ensuring the region was not overlooked when funding was allocated.

“It is vital that a predominantly rural area such as ours does not have its voice drowned out by bigger metropolitan regions, and our success in attracting so much investment to the region is a testament to the role we have played in building strong partnerships with local, regional and national stakeholders.

“Most importantly, we have given the business community a real voice in developing the area’s economy and shaping policy in a way which had not been seen before. If we are to continue to develop a thriving, sustainable economy and deliver the sort of highly-skilled jobs our communities deserve, this must continue.”

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The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has now ceased trading and transferred all its functions to Shropshire Council working with Telford & Wrekin Council and Herefordshire Council, in line with the UK Government's plans for devolution.

The Marches LEP was established in 2011 and hands over an impressive legacy from its 13-year life. In that time the LEP invested over £196m in projects across the Marches, securing in excess of £100m of match funding and supported more than 66,000 business interactions.

The schemes supported have made tangible differences to local communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving the physical appearance of many towns.

We would like to thank all the LEP Board Members who have given their time freely over the life of the LEP, as well as all the staff who worked for the LEP over the years. We also want to thank our delivery partners, local education providers and local, regional and national stakeholders who helped us achieve so much.

The Marches Growth Hub will continue to support businesses and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Each of the three Local Authorities will also continue to provide direct business support locally. Details of this support will be available through the Marches Growth Hub website and from the Local Authorities directly. Website: www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk | email: enquiries@marchesgrowthhub.co.uk.

The Marches Careers Hub will continue to be delivered and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Website: www.marchescareershub.co.uk | email: info@marchescareershub.co.uk

For any queries about Getting Building Fund (GBF), Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Marches Investment Fund (MIF) projects supported by the Marches LEP please contact: gary.spence@shropshire.gov.uk

For any finance queries please contact: michelle.hodgkiss@shropshire.gov.uk

The solvent liquidation of the Marches LEP is being managed by the Evelyn Partners Limited. For any matter related to this please contact: Camilla.Mulholland@evelyn.com

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